When Jeannie Herrera moved across the street from Norma Petko on Burbank Court in 1953, it was the beginning of a 60+ year friendship — a friendship that even had their two families moving in next door to each other on Putnam Street in 1969.
A couple of years later the ladies shared their finds when they returned from family vacations. Kits to make dollhouses! That was the beginning of the “miniature” phase of their friendship. They became very involved in their new hobby, and as more houses were built and furnished, the idea of placing their structures in their living room windows came to pass. The buildings changed, as did the decorations for the different holidays of each year. Traffic slowed along the street as more and more people realized what wonderful treasures their windows displayed.
Norma built a number of houses through the years, designing a number of them with husband George’s help. He was a woodworker and even made some of the furniture as well as helping with the construction. Each of her creations contained pictures of family members.
Now Norma’s windows are empty and her world of minis is part of our collection at the Museum to be shared with all of our visitors.
Norma was born in Hartshorne, Oklahoma, and, after graduating from Hartshorne High, moved with her family to Antioch in 1947. She was employed by the Stamm Theatre for three years before marrying George Adam Petko, Sr. in 1950 in Reno, Nevada. George had joined the Antioch Volunteer Fire Department in 1947, and had become a paid member of the department in 1949, where he served the City of Antioch and the Riverview Consolidated Fire District until his retirement as a Captain in the late 1970s. While raising 2 daughters and a son, Norma was busy in our community, serving as a life member of the Antioch Woman’s Club, member and one-time president of the Women’s Auxiliary to the Antioch Fire Department, as well as a member of St. George Episcopal Church (I heard that George built the altar for the church). It was there that Mama Price’s Kitchen was established and run by Norma, her three sisters and other family members in honor of their mother Sadie Price. One Saturday a month and on holidays they served lunch to all comers. For some, it was the only hot meal they received that week.
Norma enjoyed her miniatures and, most of all, her family. Her buildings were even named for
her grandchildren and enjoyed by all the family. Now, they are here for you to enjoy as reminders of times past, of lasting friendships and family treasures. Don’t miss the Museum’s month-long February Exhibit of The Miniature Houses of Norma Petko